Newborns: do they test language when they move their tongue?
Tongue movements in infancy could reveal useful keys to understanding how new language acquisition occurs.
Tongue movements in infants are an important part of language development. They are the first moves that serve as a source of information to learning communication. Babies start producing these small movements as early as the third month of life, even if not everyone has the same level of competence.
With age, the quality and quantity of tongue movements improve markedly and this is reflected in the infant’s acquisition of spoken language. Research suggests that nonverbal motor skills contribute to the language learning process and it is also possible that infants may take advantage of those external stimuli around them to facilitate their understanding of language.
Babies may display a variety of movements that can sometimes be unknowingly mimicked by parents or the pediatrician during exams, such as lower lip sucking, thumb sucking , and tongue thrusting. These early speech rehearsals also include moans and grins, trills and gurglings. Furthermore, the very first steps towards lallation (the first spontaneous stage of verbal language) are also remarkable thanks to the “exercises” of the language: children slightly raise the tip of their tongue in order to simulate a spoken movement similar to that of adults when they pronounce some letters (such as “r”). This shows that these first general language tests are used to prepare for the process of acquiring skills language skills .